Beyond Protocol

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Beyond Protocol
BeyondProtocolBoxArt.jpg
North American cover
Developer(s) Dark Sky Entertainment
Publisher(s) Dark Sky Entertainment
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release November 2008
Genre(s) MMORTS

Beyond Protocol was a subscription based Sci-Fi Massively multiplayer online real-time strategy game (MMORTS) Computer Game developed by the independent game developer Dark Sky Entertainmentand and released in November 2008. The 3D game modelled a persistent and player-driven fictional galaxy. Beyond Protocol was an entirely Player versus player (PvP) game, no Non-player characters (NPCs) exist within the game, all activities (trade, combat, and diplomacy) happened between the players.

Due to financial issues the game has been shut down as of April 30, 2011, and the source code was released to the public.[1] In 2014 "After Protocol" was announced as open-source community continuation.[2]

Gameplay[edit]

An in game view highlighting the graphic engine, containing ships, planets, and stars.

The players have several game play options for achieving the overarching game goal, building of a Galactic Empire: performing intergalactic trade, diplomacy, colonization, research and development, as well as combat.

Players start out as in charge of one single planet. Using the resources and workforce of the planet, they can then start building and customizing vast areas of technology, in order to expand their control in space into ever-growing empires.[3] A player's empire can span across many planets and encompass multiple systems.

The game universe can grow by adding additional systems of stars and planets, for instance to adapt to a growing player base.

Economic system[edit]

The game is offering a wide selection of 105 different minerals each possessing 18 specific attributes (like density, malleability, hardness) in various grades. Since every player's starting world has only a limited supply of some of these minerals, resource availability and scarcity serves as the core motivator to expand supply, through colonization, conquest or trade.[4]

A customizable design system allows players to research and design their own creations ranging from vehicle components to entire space ships and stations.[4]

Persistent gameplay[edit]

Each environment remains active twenty-four hours a day, whether players are present or not. While offline, the game continues to progress. If players don't take appropriate steps, the possibility exists that one might wake up some morning to find their empire reduced to ashes.

Beyond Protocol provides SMS messaging capability, allowing the player to respond to threats through mobile devices. The message allows the player to minimally manage their empire while they are not in the game client. Some examples are the ability to reinforce a site under attack, order more resources to be gathered, and respond to mail sent by other players.[5]

As of March 23, 2009, the developers also added a secondary offline chat program, so players can keep tabs on the game when the locale may be unsuitable for game play. This feature was proposed via the Galactic Senate, and approved by the player base.

Diplomacy[edit]

The in game diplomacy screen which allows relation settings as well as score comparisons.

Diplomatic relations exist via a sliding scale of values from 1-255.[6] Players are encouraged to help less experienced players through a faction system. This system provides benefits to both the veteran and the new player by speeding up research. The new player receives a much larger boost than the veteran, which helps make advanced technology less exclusive to players who started earlier on. When using this faction system, if the lower ranked player should enter a war, the higher ranked player loses their bonus unless they aid their protégé. When meeting other players, the mutual relationship starts out as neutral, and has to be lowered in order to declare war. This mechanism allows both parties time to prepare, as the degradation of the relationship is not instant.

In addition to mutual assistance from friends, Beyond Protocol also has an offline invulnerability mode. A player can choose a single colony that becomes immune to attack while offline. There is also an enhanced "vacation mode" that offers full invulnerability to an entire empire. However, this pauses all production, making the game more casual.

Customization[edit]

The in game hull builder with the 3D representation of the ship rather than the customizable 2D ship layout.

Beyond Protocol offers the player many options to customize the empire they command. The unit building process is particularly deep in this aspect. The player can choose a ship class and model, and then determine the: armor, cargo, radar, engine, hangar, shields, weapons and bay door allocations.[7] Likewise, each component can be custom designed to help the finished unit fill specific roles. Options for component design are many and include areas like: power required, hull occupied, time to produce/research, crew needed, etc.[8] These builders lead to a steeper than usual learning curve, however there are many help resources and players are encouraged to start by making small changes before designing an entire vessel. Still, this level of complexity has been a hindrance for some.

Senate[edit]

The Galactic Senate is a governing body driven by the game mechanics for creating game-changing legislation. Legislation itself is drafted in the Emperors' Chambers, by all players who control more than one star system. Any new piece of law drafted in the Chambers is then submitted to vote by the full Galactic Senate (every player can participate), and if passed, will lead to the game developers to implement these.[4][9]

Development History[edit]

Initial design of Beyond Protocol began in 1991.[10] An early Alpha release was presented to friends in May 2006. A scaled up beta program began Nov 15th 2007.[11]

Beyond Protocol entered open beta testing on September 28, 2008[12] and went live November 21, 2008.[13]

Due to financial issues the game has been shut down as of April 30, 2011. Source code (with all game assets) was then released on 4 May 2011 on Sourceforge to the community by Dark Sky Entertainment.[14]

Around 2014 Dark Sky Entertainment announced on their Sourceforge page the community project "After Protocol" as open source continuation.[2]

Reception[edit]

In a 2008 GameSpy preview, Beyond Protocol was hailed for its "Customizable units; incredibly deep strategy; economic wheeling and dealing; player democracy", while noting concerns about balancing.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dark Sky Entertainment". 
  2. ^ a b beyondprotocol on sourceforge "Visit http://www.afterprotocol.com/ to play the open-source version of the game!" (archived 2014)
  3. ^ Ciabai, Calin (2008-08-07). "Beyond Protocol Brings Strategy to the MMO World". Softpedia. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  4. ^ a b c d Rausch, Allen 'Delsyn' (2008-08-15). "Preview - Beyond Protocol". GameSpy. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  5. ^ In game 'Email Alert Setup' window
  6. ^ Screen shot of the in game diplomacy screen.
  7. ^ Screen shot of the in game hull builder.
  8. ^ Screen shot of the in game weapon builder.
  9. ^ "Dark Sky Entertainment - Press Release: The Emperors Chambers Inauguration". Gamershell. 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  10. ^ Younger, Paul (2008-06-19). "Beyond Protocol Interview". IncGamers.com. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  11. ^ "AlphaBeta". Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. 
  12. ^ "Open_Beta". 
  13. ^ "Game Launch Date". 
  14. ^ "Open Source Release". Archived from the original on 2011-05-07. This is the full sourcecode, all graphics, music, soundfx, and assets related to the game. Binaries are available in the downloads, 

External links[edit]